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Clustered hurricanes reduce impact on ecosystems
Date:10/17/2011

ecasts of habitat collapse were overly pessimistic and have been predicted at least 10 years too early as hurricanes were assumed to occur randomly over time, which is how most research projects model the incidence of future hurricanes.

'Cyclones have always been a natural part of coral reef lifecycles', says study author Professor Peter Mumby. 'However, with the additional stresses people have placed upon ecosystems like fishing, pollution and climate change, the impacts of cyclones linger a lot longer than they did in the past.'

Mumby adds, 'If we are to predict the future of coral reefs it's really important to consider the clustering of cyclone events. For a given long term rate of hurricanes (e.g., once per decade), clustered events are less damaging.'

Clustering of storms and other weather events is a global phenomenon that needs to be better quantified statistically in risk assessments' says study author Professor David Stephenson. 'We didn't at first expect clustering to have advantages but this study has clearly shown that clustering can help by giving ecosystems more time to recover from natural catastrophes'

Professor Stephenson adds, 'This research also has wider implications for other systems such as the dynamics and viability of insurance companies and the provision of reinsurance protection.'

"Reinsurance companies are a bit like ecosystems and so need time to recover after major losses - so clustering of hurricanes allows the industry to build profits before the next cluster of storm losses. They are different from corals in that they actually need a few hurricanes for them to be able to grow." Said Professor Stephenson.


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Contact: Peter Mumby
p.j.mumby@uq.edu.au
61-044-981-1589
Global Change Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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